International cooperation in research and innovation

Internationalisation is an absolute prerequisite for excellent research and innovative strenght in Germany. Global challenges, like climate change, can only be overcome by committing to partnership and international collaboration.

A successful research and innovation system must have a strong international focus in order to benefit from knowledge bases around the world. This also applies to Germany. Guiding the rapid ongoing internationalisation of innovation processes has thus become a central political task. The success of the German research and innovation system depends on policy-makers’ ability to establish a framework for international action that is conducive to science and innovation, thereby facilitating the development of global knowledge resources. Internationalisation is an absolute prerequisite for excellent research and innovative strength in Germany.

The Federal Government addressed these global challenges in its 2008 Strategy for the Internationalisation of Science and Research and its 2014 conclusions in the International Cooperation action plan. Along with the new High-Tech Strategy, the Pact for Research and Innovation and the Initiative for Excellence, the internationalisation strategy is a core element of German research policy.

The creation of the European Research Area (ERA) provides an important framework for the alignment of international research policy; therefore, the Federal Government is actively pursuing the integration of its endeavours in the European context. Joint, concerted action on the part of important EU Member States enhances Europe’s visibility, giving it added weight vis-à-vis the world’s other major innovation regions. Horizon 2020, the European framework programme for research and innovation, was designed to complement national research programmes; with a total funding volume of 77 billion euros, it is the world’s largest self-contained funding programme.

Particular mention should also be made here of the European mobility programme Erasmus+, which runs from 2014 to 2020 and has a budget of 14.8 billion euros. The programme, whose overarching goal is the promotion of mobility for learning purposes, is administered in Germany by four National Agencies (NA) according to specific target groups. Germany implements European cohesion policy through the European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIFs) at both Federal Government and Länder levels, whereas the European Social Fund (ESF) deserves special attention with regard to labour market and qualification aspects.

Germany is boosting its bilateral cooperation with important partner countries around the world. This applies especially to countries with dynamic growth and significant emerging markets; it is also of strategic importance in terms of access to attractive partners, locations and sources of knowledge. Germany’s active involvement in multilateral initiatives and institutions, as well as informal forums, is conceived as a long-term investment in the future. Shining examples are its participation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its membership of G7 and G20.